| 1 July 2020

COVID-19 and Economic Empowerment of Women

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When economies contract, the first and most affected are those on the margins.

In the Pacific, as elsewhere, the economic impacts of COVID-19 are being disproportionately felt by women, who earn less than men, have less saved, and work in jobs with little security or protections. These pre-conditions, coupled with increased unpaid work from additional caring responsibilities and spikes in already high rates of gender-based violence, mean the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on women in the Pacific will continue well beyond the immediate crisis.

Prior to COVID-19’s compounding of inequality, PSDI reforms had long worked to strengthen Pacific women’s economic security by increasing their participation in the private sector. These reforms include enabling movable property to be used as loan collateral, which particularly increases access to finance for women who have less access to titled land than men; reducing the time and cost of business registration and developing alternative business vehicles such as cooperatives, which make the formal sector more accessible to women; and improved competition and consumer protections, which reduce discrimination and enable women to enter markets.

By making it easier for people to access finance, formalize businesses, and trade, PSDI reforms particularly benefit economically marginalized groups, including women, who otherwise face substantial challenges undertaking these activities. In addition, PSDI considers the needs of men and women in the development of all its reform activities to ensure their benefits reach women.

PSDI’s ongoing work to enable women to fulfil their economic potential will contribute meaningfully to economic recovery across the region, and increase the options available to individual women as they deal with the impacts of COVID-19.

In addition, PSDI will work with governments and partners to provide advice on the gendered impacts of economic responses to COVID-19. This will include the overwhelming burden of unpaid labour and its impact on women-owned businesses, and the need to ensure long-term recovery strategies contribute to women’s economic empowerment.

For more information on PSDI's COVID-19 activities, click here.